Welcome to the October 2002 Update.
Welcome to this month's Update. There's lots to talk about so I'll get cracking straightaway.
I have asserted both on the website and in my book on the Winawer that the recapture on c3 with the queen doesn't lead to more than a draw for White after a long theoretical line.
However, this verdict is challenged by GM Goloshchapov in a recent game. He embarks on a hair raising enterprise as White in which Black throws everything at his king. Nevertheless, he survives and win. If this is good for White, then 13.Qxc3 might go from being a drawing variation to a major headache for Black. See what you think by having a look at Goloshchapov-Ahlers.
Winawer 7.Qg4 0-0 [C18]
Goloshchapov himself plays the Winawer as Black but prefers 7...0-0 followed by our old friend the Rustemov system after 8.Bd3 Qa5!?
I am glad to report this is still looking fine for Black. The young and ambitious Dutch GM Nijboer is forced to give up his winning attempt after only 17 moves thanks to Black's precise riposte to a novelty. You can see this by looking up Nijboer-Goloshchapov.
The Winawer Declined 5...Ba5 [C17]
Recently I reread 'Chess is my life' by the great Viktor Korchnoi. Like his hero Emanuel Lasker, Korchnoi has remained a potent force in the chess world at a venerable age. This is in no small part due to his continued appetite for deep research.
The reason why he keeps his Elo well over 2600 is that he is still actively studying theory rather than settling down to a less stressful life that involves keeping away as much as possible from lines being hotly debated.
Having said all this it seems a bit invidious to present a game that Korchnoi lost. However, if you don't duck challenges there is always the danger of something going wrong. Korchnoi loses in the trademark fashion of a top player: an attempt to improve on a critical opening line proves unsuccessful. Have a look at Lutz-Korchnoi.
Winawer: 4.e5 c5 5.a3 cxd4 [C17]
I'm a bit disappointed here as I thought that Korobov had come up with a clever way to invigorate this system for Black. However, looking more closely it seems that he was just bluffing his opponent! Have a look at Landa-Korobov, which also includes a loss by Bobby Fischer from a simul' back in 1964.
I feel a lot of sympathy for the 3...Be7 variation as it burst on the scene at the same time as chesspublishing.com. Despite lacking the tradition of 3...Nf6 or 3...c5, it is proving a tough weapon. Or perhaps it is this very lack of history which is part of its strength: three years after it became popular players still haven't worked out how best to take it on. In contrast brains such as Karpov have been investigating the 3...Nf6 variation since the 1970s.
The first game is an example of White's 3...Be7 confusion. Rozentalis is a strong and erudite GM, but he gets in an appalling mess in the opening when he tries to treat the 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 variation in the style of the Advance Variation. Have a look at Rozentalis-Ivanov.
Next there is a uneventful but high powered game between two world class young Russians that demonstrates Black is OK in what has become the 3...Be7 mainline, namely 4.Bd3 c5 5.dxc5 Nf6 6.Qe2. It features a pawn sacrifice developed by Morozevich that has become standard for Black. I can't think of many opening lines in which a positional pawn sacrifice has become a recurrent theme: the Benko Gambit is the obvious example. Have a look at Rublevsky-Radjabov.
Finally, White has turned again to 4.e5 c5 5.Qg4, the most direct attempt to refute Black's opening. He proves successful in the game given here after apparently improving on an Adams-Morozevich game which Black won. Check out Morovic Fernandez-Hamdouchi.
Subscriber Mike Wilhelm asks me if there are any good books on the Rubinstein or Fort Knox variations. I can't think of any books devoted to just the Fort Knox and Rubinstein. But don't despair Mike: this shows that either Publishers don't think there is enough theory on these lines to fill up a 140 page book or there aren't enough potential buyers of the book out there- either way it is a good thing if you want to keep the Rubinstein or Fort Knox as a personal weapon!
Harvey Williamson has a question about the opening line:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Be3!? Qb6 6.Qd2 Bd7 7.Nf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Nh6.
«The only games I can find with this line give Nc3 as best but also Bd3 is playable. My question is what is wrong with 9.Bxh6 it looks good to me or am I missing something? Thanks»
Unfortunately playing Be3 and only then Bxh6 loses a tempo on known lines with an immediate Bc1xh6. Thus after the plausible continuation 9...gxh6 10 Be2 Bg7 we would reach the game Topalov-Bareev on ChessPub, C02, apart from the fact that no pawn exchange on d4 has yet taken place.
This game was reached via a move order that saved a tempo for White, so that he has found time to castle as well:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Bd7 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Be2 Nh6 7.Bxh6 gxh6 8.0-0 Qb6 9.Qd2 So you will see that White is very likely to end up in the same position, but a tempo down.
Here is a request from a subscriber:
I have taken an interest in the potentials of 6.Bc1 in the Maccutcheon French, something dubbed Olland's variation in ChessPub. I would be appreciative of any light shed on the move.
All the Best, Joel»
The mainline is then 6...Ne4 7.Qg4
White preserves his dark squared bishop from exchange as occurs after the standard 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne4. Remember that Fischer once resorted to 7.Bxc3 Ne4 8.Ba5 against Petrosian to keep the bishop and 6.Bc1 is by no means as extravagant as that idea!
Nevertheless, White is showing complete contempt for the pin on c3. He reasons that he will have ample compensation in the form of dark square control if Black gives up his important king's bishop to win a pawn. True, but what about his crumbling centre after Black plays c7-c5, etc.?
I have selected as the main game a win by White, but the games in the subnotes aren't very flattering for him: I'm sorry to say it but I don't think 6.Bc1 is very good.
Still, it is tricky and very unusual- there are only about 20 or so examples on ChessBase compared to masses of games on 6.Bd2. So it might well upset your opponent.
It certainly upset Black who lost to a player rated 162 below him in the ominously named 'Before the thunderstorm' tournament in Tel Aviv- check out Gutzeit-Drozdov.
The Classical: Alekhine Chathard Attack [C13]
Béla Géczy has sent the following email which makes me doubt whether declining the pawn with 6...c5 is the best response to the Alekhine-Chathard after all:
«I've been a subscriber for quite a while now so I thought I'd write in with a question. In all the books I have on the French Classical, Alekhine-Chatard Attack (example: The Classical French, Tim Harding 1991, page 142), they never seem to mention this improvement for black in one of the main lines. Here it is:
Kronborg-Kley, corr. 1991-93
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 Bg5 7.hg5 Qg5 8.Nh3 Qe7 9.Nf4 Nc6 10.Qg4 g6 11.O-O-O h5 12.Qg3 Nb6 13.Bd3 Bd7 14.Bg6 Rg8! 15.Rh5 fxg6 16.Rg5 0-0-0 17.Ng6 Qh7 18.Ne2 Be8 19.Nef4 Bg6 20.Ng6 Rg7 21.f4 Rdg8 22.Nh4 Nb4 23.Qf2 Rg5 24.fg5 Qh5 25.Nf3 Na2 26.Kb1 Nb4 27.Qd2 Nc6 28.b3 Nd8 29.Qf4 Nf7 30.g4 Qh7 31.Rf1 Nd7 32.Rf2 Rg7 0-1
14.Bxg6 seems to be just bad. That means this whole line is looking very nice for black. What do you think?»
Béla is onto a winner here. I see from my database that Black scores a massive 12 wins, 1 draw and only three losses after 11...h5. Admittedly Black is higher rated in most of the games, but then again a sign that a variation is good is that strong players adopt it!
So why has the variation been neglected by theory? Partly it is because Black lost a well publicised game after 14...h4?! 15.Bd3! in the above sequence. Also it somehow feels counter intuitive to weaken g6. On the other hand all chess theory is somehow counter intuitive. That's why we have to learn it rather than just sit down at the board and play. You can see from the analysis I have gathered together that Black has excellent chances in Werner-Zielinska.
The Classical 4.e5 [C11]
We'll end with the latest word on the Nce2 'Classical into Tarrasch' line. This was looking fearsome [at least as long as Anand was playing it!] but now Gurevich and others have worked out how to handle it. Viktor Bologan, rated 2627, is completely destroyed as White in the game Bologan-Gurevich.
So goodbye for now. Thanks to the subscribers who emailed and best of luck to everyone with your chess!